The road ahead for Philadelphia’shealthy, efficient buildings
In 2012/2013 the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (now Office of Sustainability) launched the Building Energy Benchmarking program. This program was designed to record and make transparent energy and water consumption for non-residential buildings greater than 50,000 s/f within Philadelphia’s city limits. Requiring annual reporting through Energy Star Portfolio Manager, the benchmarking program is in response to the Greenworks program instituted by Mayor Michael Nutter in 2009 and acknowledges that buildings are the single greatest source of carbon emissions in Philadelphia. The program does not require action related to energy efficiency; instead, it takes the first step of transparent and consistent reporting, enabling key stakeholders (such as owners, tenants, and government officials) to compare relative utility usage between buildings. Once this understanding of energy and water usage within buildings is known, action can be focused on buildings that exhibit high usage patterns, beginning with those that can most easily be lowered. Building on the benchmarking ordinance, in November 2019 Philadelphia City Council passed the Building Energy Performance Policy requiring action on no/low-cost measures to make those buildings more efficient.